Designer Brands Pivots to Athleisure, Reins In Camuto

The DSW parent says the banner experienced a dramatic rise in its second-quarter athletics business and that it has the flexibility and necessary vendor relationships to become a “go-to sneaker” headquarters.

“We continue to focus on emphasizing our everyday value proposition, prioritizing the top 50 brands in footwear,” Designer Brands CEO Roger Rawlins told analysts last week. “With our customers staying home, we have seen a clear shift in consumer behavior and preferences by way of increased demand for athleisure product.”

Given athletic footwear represented 24 percent of its business in the second quarter, versus 17 percent in the year-ago quarter, and dress/seasonal style sales declined to 40 percent against 47 percent in 2019, DSW has ramped up its athletic penetration for the Fall to more than 25 percent of its overall assortment.

The retailer, according to Rawlins, has also engaged in talks with North America’s top five athletic brands about forging tighter relationships that would benefit all parties as it also embraces the larger 50 top brands.

“We plan to grow even deeper with these top 50 brands. We know that our customers want national brands more than ever and we are prioritizing our inventory buys to reflect that,” said Rawlins, adding, “Some are even providing us with special makeups and closeouts in addition to their full line of goods.”

Elsewhere at DSW, the banner has expanded a self-checkout process on its app to 37 retail locations to improve in-store safety and give the retailer another opportunity through the app to communicate with its customers digitally.

As for its Camuto business, purchased for $375 million in Oct. 2018, Designer Brands says the private-label firm is suffering due to the current macro environment and a consumer pullback on the seasonal and dress footwear firm. With second-quarter sales down 70 percent to $30.5 million at Camuto, DBI has decided to suspend the unit’s focus on increasing its exclusive brands portfolio and slash footwear production for the remainder of 2020 by 73 percent. Camuto’s Sole Society label has been terminated, with the company’s attention now on the Vince Camuto, Jessica Simpson and Lucky labels.